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Meet Kathryn Tappen: NDonNBC’s new sideline reporter

Aug 28, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

kathryn-tappen

For those of you tuning in on Saturday afternoon — game time is set for at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC — you’ll meet the newest member of Notre Dame’s broadcast team.

Kathryn Tappen joins Dan Hicks and Mike Mayock from the sidelines this season, joining the NBC Sports team from the NHL Network, where she served as the network’s lead studio host.

A former Academic All-American athlete at Rutgers, Tappen isn’t completely new to the network. She worked with NBC in Sochi at the 2014 Olympics, hosting men’s and women’s hockey. Before that, she spent five years at NESN, covering the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins.

Tappen will be busy in her new job. In addition to Notre Dame, she’ll contribute to the Sunday Night Football broadcast, work the Super Bowl and join the studio team for NHL Live and NHL Overtime.

Busy prepping for her debut on the sidelines for Notre Dame, Tappen was nice enough to catch up with me before the season begins.

 

What drew you to the opportunity to work Notre Dame football Saturdays?

The conversations between NBC started right around the Olympics, and it was a lot of hockey talk and discussions about how the role would fit with me at NBC. The opportunity to do Notre Dame sidelines was eventually presented, and I was excited at the thought to be a part of such a historic football program on the network that’s been broadcasting Irish football for 25 years.

The production quality, the broadcasters, Mike Mayock, Dan Hicks, Doug Flutie, the pregame crew, it’s a tremendous broadcast and to even be considered to be a part of it was a huge honor for me.

I love being around football. I have been soley around the NHL the past three years, but prior to that I had covered the New England Patriots and college football teams in New England, so I’m familiar with the game and I enjoy being around it.

 

As someone experiencing Notre Dame for the first time, what’s that been like?

The history, the tradition and the team at Notre Dame. It’s an amazing place. I was out there for the first time in early August and I just couldn’t get over, not just the campus itself, but the great people that work around that program. It’s going to be really exciting come August 30 when the season starts.

 

I imagine you’ve had to do your homework, too. How have you spent the weeks leading up to the season?

It’s a lot of preparation. In the past, I’ve just watched college football Saturdays as a fan, so I haven’t exactly honed in on the specifics of the Notre Dame program. Now it becomes preparing for an upcoming season in which you are no longer watching as a fan. My responsibility will now be to help educate the fan both on the Notre Dame side and their weekly opponent. where you’re covering all the home games for a Notre Dame season and then the opponents.

After the NHL season ended, I took a little bit of time away with my family and friends, and then the last couple of weeks have been all about preparation. The visit out to Notre Dame, and to Michigan, was huge, as I got to put faces to names that I’ve been reading about, and they’ve been able to see me.

I’m just trying to totally submerge myself. Not just about Notre Dame, but about the whole college football spectrum heading into the season.

 

This isn’t your first time jumping into something new. How does your experience with the NHL help you?

That’s what gives me confidence going into the season. As many nerves as there are getting used to a new program like Notre Dame, I can take a step back and remember where I was in 2007 when I got assigned to the Boston Bruins broadcast working for NESN. At the time, it was four days before the start of the Bruins season.
I had to totally shift gears in a short amount of time. And what I really did was lean on my analysts. I sat and I listened for an entire season and I asked a lot of questions. That’s what I did with Mike Mayock and Doug Flutie and our producers when I sat in on practice in South Bend.

Just trying to ask questions and familiarize myself. The biggest difference is that I have prior experience covering football and watched it as a kid. I understand it way better than I understood the NHL before I started with the Bruins.

 

What were your first impressions of Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame program?

He was tremendous. It was a very cold rainy day at Notre Dame. We were there for double sessions and on the field all day long. He was great. He cracked some jokes with me. Obviously he’s a big Boston fan, growing up there, so we were able to have a little bit of common interest there.

He was very accommodating. Everyone at Notre Dame has welcomed me with open arms. I know that I need to earn the respect of everybody in that organization, but they’ve at least given me the opportunity to do so.

 

Before you were a broadcaster, you were a collegiate athlete. How do you think that helps you in your current job?

I ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, at Rutgers. So it was a three-season sport. I redshirted my freshman year because of a back injury, but other than that I was ready to go. I loved it. I would not trade my experience as a college athlete for anything in the world. I met so many great people, and I still have contacts in the business whom I met through my athletic program at Rutgers. My former teammates and friends from other teams at Rutgers I’m close with to this day.

Over the years of covering professional sports, it doesn’t come up a lot. Those guys are on a totally different level, some of them have worked 12-15 years in the professional ranks. A lot of the times it wasn’t really brought up that I was an athlete myself.

However now that I’m covering college again, I was actually amazed at how many times people brought it up in the couple of days that I was at Notre Dame. Just being a part of that atmosphere, being around student-athletes, it reminded me so much of when I was at school, and what our training programs were like in cross country in late August, when we had two sessions a day as well. You were always eating together, laughing together, training together and getting ready for the school year. It was great.

I started to feel a little bit like I was back at college. I was definitely able to take a step back and say wow, this was me not all that long ago. I think having that collegiate athletic experience under my belt gives me a better understanding of what’s happening off the field, not just on the field, for the players.

***

Special thanks to Kathryn for making time. She’ll be working the sidelines tweeting from @NDonNBC and can also be followed @KathrynTappen

  1. 25kgold - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Where’s the crystal ball with this one?

    • dickasman - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      What is her busy size? Juuust kidding but not really. Did Alex Flanigan get caught cheating?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        She was sleeping with the Football Team in return of term papers.

      • domerboyirish - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:30 PM

        What would you know about that? Have you reached the age where they teach sex education in class?

        That reminds me, Keith, I thought there was a minimum age requirement with a WordPress account? Don’t you have to be over 12? Any idea how John got around this?

  2. liv4nd - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Yes…I would welcome you with open arms as well! Don’t keep BK tied up at the half when he needs to go coach!

    • dickasman - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      Who’s Kathryn Tappen? These days?

      • andy44teg - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:21 PM

        I PREDICTED IT!!!! That’s actually pretty good dickie.

  3. 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Katherine Heigel is the new sideline reporter? The first time she asks BK a question at halftime, he’s likely to respond by asking her “hey, can you get me Seth Rogen’s autograph?”

  4. irishinmich - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    She isn’t good enough to be on the SEC Network.

    -johngaltissuckinghisthumb

    • dickasman - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      Just by the color of her hair, she’s good enough for my Calvin Klein Steele’s I decided

  5. NotreDan - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Nude bro… I’m betting _____________.

    You KNOW what I’m betting! :)

    • dickasman - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      I’m betting you will be spanking it tonight. Tell Rosy I says hello!

  6. domerboyirish - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Alex Who?

  7. irishdodger - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    ND just announced a 5th player will be held out of practice & this weekend’s game as the investigation concludes.

  8. fnc111 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Let me guess….she’s married to a dentist?

  9. fnc111 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    john galt is that old guy in that new fantasy football commercial.

    Never trade a stolen car for an empty briefcase.

    SOB has nothing better to do in that Huntsville jail cell. Roll damn tide john.

  10. domerboyirish - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    My predictions for this season:
    – Win over Rice 42-7.
    – Nude is the first guy to get a groupie with Kathyrn Tappen posted at this site. (Pants will be on. No arrests made)
    – Brady Hoke seen sulking with a beer and giant Brontosaurus burger after loss to ND.
    – Purdue announces after the game that they are thankful for Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big 10 so that they aren’t the only team in the league getting laughed at.
    – Every time they mention Van Gorder over the loudspeaker, it’s followed by cheesy 70’s porn music from the band.
    – North Carolina self imposes suspensions for a dozen players announcing that they will miss every game except the ND game.
    – John Galtis accidently E-vites all of us to his Bar Mitzvah
    – By Halloween, Jameis Winston combines his favorite off season activities by shooting live crabs that he didn’t purchase. Makes the cover of SI doing it.
    – The ASU game, just two weeks after a game in pot-filled Washington, hang close to the Irish but fall late when they get the munchies in the third quarter
    – SEC Network slowly gains viewers as season goes on because SEC players will be advancing nicely in Honors Channel Changing class and are able to locate it on their TV.
    – USC fails to field a team after Sarkisian loses all of his players that think he is a racist.
    – An undefeated Michigan State is excluded from the CFB Playoffs because no other Big Ten team finishes better than 8-4.
    – ND beats Alabama for NC when Nick Saban’s hair piece falls off before kick off and Lane Kiffin has to coach the game in his absence.

    • onward2victory - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      Great post domerboy. More of these and less responses to the troll please.

  11. ndfaithful - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Tappen, Kathryn….

    That would be must see tv.

    As it is, it’s just one more great reason to watch ND Football.

  12. ndfaithful - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I got here and had to check this story out before seeing which new player is being held out…
    I’m shameless.

    • papadec - Aug 28, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      You’re probably not the only one.

  13. shaunodame - Aug 28, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Suck on that johngaltisaturd! This girl is WAY hotter than that chick on the SEC Network! And smart to boot! While I will miss Alex Flanagan, still my future wife, I’ve got to say, Welcome to the family Ms. Tappen.

  14. DPU Man ND Fan - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Stunner. And seems very well spoken. And a stunner. Sorry, I appear to be stunned.

  15. nicenirish - Aug 29, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    I’m not sure I understand why “Scooter” had to be replaced. I liked her.

  16. sfischer1967 - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    As someone who watches the NHL Network, she is quite an addition to the NDSideline, and more than due to her off-the-chart AQ (attractiveness quotient). Alex Flanigan will be difficult to replace, but from what I’ve seen of her work on the NHL Network, she’ll do just fine.

  17. rcali - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Significant upgrade. Younger, hotter. It was time for a change.

  18. nicenirish - Sep 2, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Well what did you all think about her first game?

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